What are two ways in which the casket plot and the love between Jessica and Lorenzo are connected in The Merchant of Venice?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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1. The love between Bassanio and Portia is reflected in the subplot of Jessica and Lorenzo. While Portia obeys her father's last wishes, she schemes some so that Bassanio will choose the correct casket; however, Jessica is not so respectful of her father as she schemes to elope with the Christian Lorenzo.

Before her father died, he arranged that Portia would marry the man who chose the correct one of three caskets; in this way, he has assured himself that his daughter will not marry a man who simply desires Portia for her money. As a counterpoint to this wise provision of Portia's father, there is the situation of Jessica who loves Lorenzo,a Christian, someone of whom her father would not approve. So, she decides to elope with him. Moreover, she steals money from her father.

2. Much like Jessica who converts to Christianity for Lorenzo, Portia describes her wealth as converted to Bassanio when he chooses the correct casket:

They have o'erlooked me and divided me,
One half of me is yours, the other half yours--(3.1.16-17)

When Bassanio says, "But let me to my fortune and the caskets" (3.1.39), he connects his love to transformation and to economic ownership. 

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